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This page details the three major UK policies that the Open Access Service was set up to help authors to comply with. Many other UK funders have open access policies, which can be found by looking through the Sherpa Juliet service. The Open Access team are happy to help researchers comply with any open access policies.


Summary of key policies

Policy Gold Green
REF2021 No Yes
Research Councils  Yes Yes (if embargo <6 months STEM or <12 months HASS)
Wellcome Trust Yes No


REF2021 Open Access Policy


The  REF policy for open access in the post-2014 Research Excellence Framework states that to be eligible for the post-2014 REF, authors' final peer-reviewed manuscripts must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication. Deposited material should be discoverable, and free to read and download, for anyone with an internet connection. The requirement applies only to journal articles and conference proceedings with an International Standard Serial Number. It will not apply to monographs, book chapters, other long-form publications, working papers, creative or practice-based research outputs, or data. The policy applies to research outputs accepted for publication after 1 April 2016. FAQs for the Policy for Open Access in the next REF were updated in March 2015.

Services at the University of Cambridge 

The University supports researchers with an article deposit service. Authors can deposit their accepted articles and the Open Access team will ensure the work is deposited into the University Repository and all publisher embargoes are observed. The work is then compliant for the post-2014 REF.


Research Councils UK (RCUK)


The Research Councils Policy on Open Access states that publications arising from funded research must either be published Open Access or a copy of the work must be made available in an open access repository within an acceptable embargo period. Embargo periods of 12 months are permissible for Arts, Humanities and Social Science journals and 6 months for Science, Technology, Engineering and Medical Journals. The policy applies to peer‐reviewed research articles (including review articles not commissioned by publishers), which acknowledge Research Council funding. Articles published Open Access should be made available using the most liberal and enabling licences, ideally CC-BY.The policy has been in place since 1 April 2013. The Research Councils provide block grants to the University to support the payment of article processing charges.

Services at the University of Cambridge

The University administers the Research Councils block grant centrally. Authors should deposit their accepted articles and the Open Access team will ensure REF compliance and check funder policies. If the payment of an article processing charge is required, the Open Access team will help the author facilitate this payment.

Students funded by a UK Research Council

Research Councils Training Grants have a requirement that students with funded PhD positions make a full text version of their thesis available no later than 12 months after they are awarded their doctorate. The Research Councils Training Grant Guide states: "Councils recognise that commercial, collaborative or publication arrangements may necessitate a slight delay; the delay can be at the Research Organisation's discretion but we expect the thesis to be deposited as soon as possible. The Research Councils expect the Research Organisation to have in place a documented process for determining where exceptions can be granted to the requirement for publication within 12 months".


Charity Open Access Fund (COAF)


The Wellcome Trust Open Access policy requires that funded research must be in PubMed Central (PMC) as soon as possible after publication and in any event within 6 months (a link to the article on the publisher's website is not sufficient). Where an open access fee is paid the paper must be made available immediately and with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence. The policy is supported by the Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) is a partnership between Arthritis Research UK, Bloodwise, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Parkinson's UK and the Wellcome Trust to enable free and unrestricted access to the published outputs of the research we support. COAF was established on 1 October 2014 for a pilot of two years, which included Breast Cancer Campaign along with the 6 other charities that now form the COAF partnership. The Wellcome Trust is administering the Fund on behalf of the partners. COAF provides block grants to 36 UK research institutions to meet open access article processing charges for peer-reviewed research publications resulting from research funded by one or more of the six partner charities.

Note the Wellcome Trust has sanctions when Trust-funded researchers have not complied with their open access policy. The Trust will withhold the final 10 per cent of the 'total transferable funds' budget on the grant until all papers comply. Funding renewals or new grants will be withheld until papers from previous Trust funded papers are compliant. In addition, researchers will not be permitted to include any non-compliant Wellcome-funded publications in any application submitted to the Trust.

Services at the University of Cambridge 

The University administers the COAF block grant centrally. Authors should deposit their accepted articles and the Open Access team will ensure HEFCE compliance and check funder policies. If the payment of an article processing charge is required, the Open Access team will help the author facilitate this payment.


Wellcome Trust monograph policy

The Wellcome Trust has extended its open access policy to include scholarly monographs and book chapters authored or co-authored by Trust grantholders that arise as part of their grantfunded research. The extended policy currently applies to all grantholders who were awarded a grant on or after 1 October 2013. In October 2014 it came into effect for holders of grants which were awarded before 1 October 2013. Grantholders are required to make scholarly monographs and book chapters available through PubMed Bookshelf and Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC) as soon as possible, with a maximum embargo of six months. Where a publishing fee is levied, such works must be available without embargo, and be licensed in ways which support their re-use. There are comprehensive FAQs here. Wellcome Trust grantholders or publishers of research funded by the Wellcome Trust can use the deposit form available from the Wellcome Trust website to deposit a monograph or book chapter for inclusion in the PubMed Bookshelf and Europe PMC


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